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The Pancester Plough Monday Mummer's Play

Appendix Four: The Pancester Plough Monday Mummers Play

The text was collected by Dadd from Mr. Geo. Pither in 1902. It was a traditional Plough Monday play, latterly performed by youths. It is unusual in several respects; firstly, in that the script does not cover the banter between the Doctor and Jack Finney, which appears to have been improvised each year, so that jokes and stories from the year just gone could be incorporated into the play. Also, the part of Molly Tinker (which would, of course, have been played by a man) has taken the place of Father Christmas for the purpose of calling in the Doctor. Finally, the Pancester play is unique in the number of characters who come on after the battle; these may once have constituted a seperate play, or a second act.

The Cast

Old Hind-Before
Father Christmas
St. George
Bold Slasher
Doctor
Jack Finney
Beelzebub
The Recruiting Sergeant
Clever Legs
Johnny Jack
Little Man Dick
Molly Tinker

Old Hind Before

In Comes I , Old Hind Before,
Here comes I through your door
I sweeps and sweeps, so give us room,
I sweeps and sweeps with my old broom,
We tell a tale of fun in rime
To bring you joy at Christmas time,
If you don’t believe what I say,
Here’s Father Christmas, clear the way.

Father Christmas

Here comes I, Father Christmas, welcome or not,
I hope old Father Christmas shall never be forgot,
We are come to laugh and jeer,
We are come to taste your beer.
We’ll drink it hot, we’ll drink it cold,
Enter now the Slasher Bold.

Bold Slasher

Open your doors and let me in,
For the battle I am sure to win,
Whether I stand, or whether I fall,
I’m sure that I shall please you all.
For right before your very eyes,
I’ll cut St. George into mince pies.

Father Christmas

Bold words, my son, have no doubt,
Here’s brave St. George to have it out.

St. George

In come I, St. George the brave,
I’ll set about this Turkish knave,
I’ll cut him with my terrible sword,
With which I’ve fought, home and abroad,
I killed the dragon who was so fierce,
And now Bold Slashers heart I’ll pierce.

They fight, and down goes the St. George.

Father Christmas

Ah good St. George, here comes Old Molly,
Your Mother as was once so jolly.

Molly Tinker

My son lies dead upon the ground,
Is there a Doctor to be found?

Doctor

Yes, there’s a Doctor to be found,
I’ll cure the knight upon the ground.

Molly Tinker

Pray good Doctor, what is thy fee?

Doctor

Ten guineas is my fee, but ten pounds I’ll take of thee.

Molly Tinker

Pray good Doctor, what can you cure?

Doctor

I’ll cure this knight, that’s for sure.
I can cure the itch, the stich, the palsy and gout,
A drop of my elegant eel pain will bring him about.
Now who will hold my horse?

Jack Finney

I will, of course!

There now follows a piece of improvised clowning and coarse talk between the Doctor and Jack Finney.After which the doctorgives St. George some medicine from a ladle with the words,

Take this good king. Now rise and sing.

St. George rises, and sings.

I live, I live, the hero comes,
Sound, sound sound the trumpet,
Beat beat the drum.

St. George and Bold Slasher fight again; Bold Slasher falls.

Father Christmas

Now my son lies dead upon the ground,
Is there a Doctor to be found?

Doctor

I can cure the itch, the stich, the palsy and gout,
But dead men I can do nothing about.

Old Hind Before

Walk in Beelzebub.

Beelzebub

In come I, old Beelzebub,
On my shoulder I carries a club.
In my hand a dripping pan.
Don’t you think I’m a jolly old man?

Old Hind Before

Walk in Clever Legs.

Clever Legs

In comes I, I ain’t been hit,
With my crooked hump,
And little wit.
Me head’s so big,
Me wits so small,
I’ll play a tune to please you all.

Old Hind Before

Walk in Johnny Jack.

Johnny Jack

In comes I, old Johnny Jack.
With my family at my back,
My family’s large, and I am small,
A little please, will help us all.

Old Hind Before

Walk in Sergeant.

The Recruiting Sergeant.

In comes I, the Recruiting Sergeant,
Arriving here just now,
Come to list all those who follow horse cart or plough,
If you won’t join then will you please,
Spare us beer, bread and cheese.

Old Hind Before

Walk in Little Man Dick.

Little Man Dick

In comes I, who ain’t been in yet,
A little man, with a little wit,
And if you think our play was funny,
Show us favour, pray give us money.

Clever Legs plays a tune, and all sing The Pancester Carol

Here’s a health unto our Master,
And to our Mistress too,
We wish you Merry Christmas,
We wish that God bless you.

(QuetĂȘ.)